The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
No One Man Should be Able to Trigger Nuclear War
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Amidst the rising clamor in the US over groping and goosing, America’s Congress is beginning to fret about President Donald Trump’s shaky finger being on the nation’s nuclear button.

The air force officer that dutifully trails the president carries the electronic launch codes in a black satchel that could ignite a world war that would largely destroy our planet. This is rather more serious than groping and pinching.

The inexperienced Trump has talked himself into a corner over North Korea. He thought bombastic threats and a side deal with China could force the stubborn North Koreans to junk their nuclear weapons. Anyone with knowledge of North Asia could have told him this plan would not work.

Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury’ – a clear allusion to the use of nuclear weapons. The North Koreans mooned the tough-talking president and went ahead with their nuclear programs. So Trump’s big bluff was called. A huge embarrassment for the amateur president who evaded military service in the 1960’s.

On top of that, the wicked North Koreans referred to Trump as ‘old.’ He riposted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was ‘short and fat.’ It is to this level of kindergarten invective that we have sunk – idiotic kids armed with nuclear weapons.

The problem for would-be warlord Trump is that he has few options left. His least bad are 1. attacking North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure with tactical nuclear weapons, or 2. laughing off the whole business, backing down and hoping that incoming Christmas and more groping furor will divert public attention.

Nuclear war is absolutely unthinkable. Totally crazy. Yet serious discussion is underway in military and neocon war circles about a nuclear war against North Korea and, even crazier, against Iran and Russia. Welcome home, Dr Strangelove.

Responsible people in government are increasingly worried that President Trump might ignite nuclear war to salvage his bruised ego and to show the Asians who is boss. Trump has already ringed North Korea with heavy bombers, strike aircraft, three heavy aircraft carriers and fleets of warplanes in Japan, South Korea and Guam.

A single incident – a naval clash, a mining, an air encounter – could set the stage for war. Senior US officers have been telling Trump the same message that this column has delivered for years: that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is unlikely to be destroyed by even a surprise nuclear attack.

The Pentagon admits that a ground invasion of North Korea would be far too costly. A decade-old Rand Corp study estimated US losses would be in the range of 250,000 men.

North Korea will probably retain enough nuclear-armed missiles in deep caves after a US nuclear attack to riposte against South Korea and Japan, where there are nearly 100,000 US troops and dependents. Japan, the world’s third most important economic power, is totally vulnerable to nuclear devastation.

ORDER IT NOW

Nuclear-armed China and Russia are right next door to North Korea. Trump’s threats to attack North Korea might force them to challenge the US in a major confrontation. The head of South Korea’s ruling party just insisted that the US must not attack North Korea without her nation’s prior consent – which will not likely be given.

Interestingly, few Americans know that in wartime, South Korea’s powerful armed forces fall under command of a US four-star general. Such is the imperial order in North Asia.

Washington is planning large, new provocative military exercises around North Korea – just the type of sabre rattling that provoked the current crisis. China urged Washington to call off its warlike actions and, in exchange, for North Korea to stop testing nuclear warheads and missiles.

Sensible, of course, but Chief Crusader Trump rejects such plans and keeps sending mixed messages to the world. If he really wanted peace with North Korea all he would have to do is fly to Pyongyang, bury the hatchet, and shoot some rounds of golf with Kim Jong-un who would be thrilled to pieces.

This is unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, senior military officers and some in Congress who actually mastered high school are trying to figure out how to keep the volatile Trump away from the nuclear trigger.

According to the US Constitution, Congress has the power to declare war. But the president has a residual right to initiate military action in the event of a sudden threat. The fate of the globe cannot be left in the hands of one man. Even Russia and China require some checks and balances before nuclear war is unleashed. The US apparently does not.

Some senior officers say they would refuse to obey an illegal order. But none refused when it came to the unjustified attack on Iraq and war against Syria. In fact, the US nuclear attack system is designed to thwart interference with any orders to unleash war.

A no-first use pledge would be a positive step, to be sure. A better way would be for Congress to mandate a collegial decision to use nuclear weapons that would involve the president, vice president, secretary of state, chief of staff and chief justice. This, of course, would not apply if the US was under nuclear attack. But even certainty of attack can be uncertain, as numerous nuclear crises during the cold war showed.

The urgent message of the day is: President Trump. Step away from that nuclear button and calm down.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
Hide 13 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
    []
  1. No one man can trigger a nuclear war. Why would one characterize the National Command Authority (NCA) as such?

    …the actual procedures and technical systems in place for authorizing the execution of a launch order requires a secondary confirmation under a two-man rule, as the President’s order is subject to secondary confirmation by the Secretary of Defense…

    infogalactic.com/info/National_Command_Authority

    Read More
    • Replies: @peterAUS
    Well.....

    the actual procedures and technical systems in place for authorizing the execution of a launch order requires a secondary confirmation under a two-man rule, as the President’s order is subject to secondary confirmation by the Secretary of Defense…
     
    Another quote:
    If the Secretary of Defense does not concur, then the President may in his sole discretion fire the Secretary. The Secretary of Defense has legal authority to approve the order, but cannot veto it.

    Nice legal talk.

    So...the President says:"launch"--->SecDef says "no"---President fires him-->then what....Deputy SecDef steps in and confirms....or not. So, the President fires him as well and keeps firing people until one does concur. Or, something else happens?
    And the most important...all that happening in a certain time window.
    That time is never much considered in all that talk.

    Strategic launch from Russia...30 minutes?
    A tactical launch from North Korea.....FIVE minutes?!

    I seem to remember that during the late Cold War the launch authority for tactical nukes was given to 4 star general in European Theater.

    The author of the article simply does not understand how all that works.
    Now, it's O.K. The purpose of the article isn't to incite an educated debate and result in some learning. It is to push some buttons in the targeted audience. And the targeted audience needs such articles for....certain...reasons. I have no intention to get into that pusher/user relationship, of course, but because the topic is of some importance it would be good to have some facts right.

    The real power of certain players is in their ability to create an environment where a desired outcome is almost certain.

    You put forces close to each other. You keep them close and do exercises. Men get conditioned to execute orders fast and get tired/frustrated enough to stop to think too much.
    You do that for all the chain; from the guy on the launcher to the President.
    On both sides.
    And just wait for a spark to ignite a forest fire.
    Tired and frustrated people shall make that spark for sure.

    What is the estimated time from an order from The Fat Boy to launch to the explosion of a tactical nuke over Seul?
    That is the time to make a decision for U.S. action.

    My estimate is: too short for the President. So, you either delegate, most likely to theater commander, or make the President decision based on something happening.
    Like...."the senior NK leadership is moving into their nuclear shelters". Or something similar.
    That information comes from the Intelligence Community. It gives the President about an hour to make his call. Or less.

    Draw your own conclusions.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
    AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
    These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
    Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
    Sharing Comment via Twitter
    /emargolis/no-one-man-should-be-able-to-trigger-nuclear-war/#comment-2083733
    More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  2. peterAUS says:
    @Hank Rearden
    No one man can trigger a nuclear war. Why would one characterize the National Command Authority (NCA) as such?

    ...the actual procedures and technical systems in place for authorizing the execution of a launch order requires a secondary confirmation under a two-man rule, as the President's order is subject to secondary confirmation by the Secretary of Defense...

    infogalactic.com/info/National_Command_Authority
     

    Well…..

    the actual procedures and technical systems in place for authorizing the execution of a launch order requires a secondary confirmation under a two-man rule, as the President’s order is subject to secondary confirmation by the Secretary of Defense…

    Another quote:
    If the Secretary of Defense does not concur, then the President may in his sole discretion fire the Secretary. The Secretary of Defense has legal authority to approve the order, but cannot veto it.

    Nice legal talk.

    So…the President says:”launch”—>SecDef says “no”—President fires him–>then what….Deputy SecDef steps in and confirms….or not. So, the President fires him as well and keeps firing people until one does concur. Or, something else happens?
    And the most important…all that happening in a certain time window.
    That time is never much considered in all that talk.

    Strategic launch from Russia…30 minutes?
    A tactical launch from North Korea…..FIVE minutes?!

    I seem to remember that during the late Cold War the launch authority for tactical nukes was given to 4 star general in European Theater.

    The author of the article simply does not understand how all that works.
    Now, it’s O.K. The purpose of the article isn’t to incite an educated debate and result in some learning. It is to push some buttons in the targeted audience. And the targeted audience needs such articles for….certain…reasons. I have no intention to get into that pusher/user relationship, of course, but because the topic is of some importance it would be good to have some facts right.

    The real power of certain players is in their ability to create an environment where a desired outcome is almost certain.

    You put forces close to each other. You keep them close and do exercises. Men get conditioned to execute orders fast and get tired/frustrated enough to stop to think too much.
    You do that for all the chain; from the guy on the launcher to the President.
    On both sides.
    And just wait for a spark to ignite a forest fire.
    Tired and frustrated people shall make that spark for sure.

    What is the estimated time from an order from The Fat Boy to launch to the explosion of a tactical nuke over Seul?
    That is the time to make a decision for U.S. action.

    My estimate is: too short for the President. So, you either delegate, most likely to theater commander, or make the President decision based on something happening.
    Like….”the senior NK leadership is moving into their nuclear shelters”. Or something similar.
    That information comes from the Intelligence Community. It gives the President about an hour to make his call. Or less.

    Draw your own conclusions.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. NUCLEAR war is unthinkable? I think we’d better get to where a conventional war that leaves Seoul immolated is unthinkable also. Why the hell the South Koreans thought it would be a good idea to base all their industry, government and brain trust there is beyond me, but whatever. The fat little bastard has a price in dollars. Meet it. China, Japan, South Korea and Russia can divy it up and pay it. They all created and helped arm him. Then, walk away, sail away, fly away.

    On the way out, inform China, Russia and Iran that any damage the Norks EVER inflict upon the United States will be duplicated on THEIR shores, the Russian, Chinese and Iranian shores that is, by US. They wanted us to lay off, we can lay off, OUGHT to. But the Norks are their client, they enable him and so they are responsible for him. Simple things, these and we’ll save a fortune. And Trump knows it’s the smart thing to do. Pull our people out, let the S. Koreans handle their own. But anyone that thinks the U.S. Military and the MIC is going to allow Trump to fleece them of a multi-Trillion dollar conflict and rebuilding of Seoul is delusional.

    Margolis doesn’t understand the pecking order in the Jew-commanded MIC. Defense contractor dollars to Israel and to the Jew-run Lockheed, Boeing and that bunch with their 90% Jewish profiting boards ALWAYS come first, always. Trump has NO say over that. The MIC will never tolerate a peaceful settling of the Norks, with Russia, with Iran. Even if we don’t go to war, they’ll run up the bill keeping us always buying for a war and so they profit regardless. That’s the nut of the matter and they couldn’t care LESS about lives, about expense, it all goes into their pockets regardless. Like hamburgers served, after tens and tens of millions killed, the domestic Jewish molesting class has no problem with more millions. Margolis MUST be a Jew. Sure, lay it on Trump, go ahead.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  4. If he really wanted peace with North Korea all he would have to do is fly to Pyongyang, bury the hatchet, and shoot some rounds of golf with Kim Jong-un who would be thrilled to pieces.

    He could be accompanied by a delegation seeking opportunities for trade.

    Who is preventing this from happening? Is Trump really the author of American foreign policy? Trump may be a twit. But I suspect real evil behind the Throne.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Authenticjazzman
    There is no such thing as "Bury the hatchet", as far as lunatic communists or american leftists are concerned.

    Authenticjazzman "Mensa" qualified since 1973, airborne trained U S Army vet , and pro Jazz musician.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  5. Thanks: I did the Command Reaction stuff on my ship, and managed the two man control authenticators with Comm types.

    S. is just stupid pushing his no first use twaddle. We have always been under NSC 68 which calls for a first strike.

    Again S. is pushing his ideology without any regard for reality: I guess it is in his genes, certainly not his brain.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  6. Duglarri says:

    Eric, I wonder if you remember the old news item from Saturday Night Live in GHW Bush days. Behind Dennis Miller, the comic newsreader, a picture of Dan Quayle sitting at a desk, with GHW standing behind him, leaning over, appears. Miller shouts, “Not that button! Not that button!”

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  7. MBlanc46 says:

    So, how about we do it by committee? I’m sure that would work.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  8. JAU says:

    Well I hate to judge before all the facts are in, but its beginning to look as if General Ripper exceeded his authority.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  9. JimRed says:

    If no one man should be able to start a nuclear war, then Kim Jong Un must be terminated.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  10. Didi says:

    Nuclear arms have returned the world to the age of the absolute monarchs. Louis XIV alone was empowered to order an armed attack on a neighboring country or elsewhere by his naval forces. Now our President is our Louis XIV in that respect.
    I suspect that J. Robert Oppenheimer realized this when he witnessed the very first nuclear test.
    Can there be any doubt that Jesus would call this the summit of human insanity if he were alive today?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  11. No ten men should be able to trigger a nuclear war, and no hundred or thousand men should be able to trigger one.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  12. “No one man should be allowed to trigger nuclear war”

    However if the “one man” involved just happens to be a Democrat with the name of, for example : Truman, no problem, he can order the bombing of cities with the resulting deaths of hundreds of thousands.

    Fact being Democrats can do any outrageous thing they so desire, and they will always forgiven and their horrendous actions and abberations will be justified with the typical twisted logic of the insane media and their “professor” henchmen.

    And the idea that DT will simply, for the hell of it, start a nuclear war, resulting in the deaths of millions of Americans including his loved ones, is so Goddamn absurd that it only reflects the deranged mind-set of the leftist crazies who are blathering such garbage.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” qualified since 1973, airborne trained U S Army vet and prto jazz artist.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  13. @WorkingClass

    If he really wanted peace with North Korea all he would have to do is fly to Pyongyang, bury the hatchet, and shoot some rounds of golf with Kim Jong-un who would be thrilled to pieces.
     
    He could be accompanied by a delegation seeking opportunities for trade.

    Who is preventing this from happening? Is Trump really the author of American foreign policy? Trump may be a twit. But I suspect real evil behind the Throne.

    There is no such thing as “Bury the hatchet”, as far as lunatic communists or american leftists are concerned.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” qualified since 1973, airborne trained U S Army vet , and pro Jazz musician.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
Current Commenter says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in Palestine, which inevitably invites terrorist attacks against US citizens and property.”
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.